Numbers of pupils cycling to school in Scotland fell slightly in 2009, prompting Sustrans Scotland chief to admit there is much to be done to increase the level of active travel in the country.
Fifty-nine per cent of pupils in Scotland (415,000) took part in the second annual Hands-Up Scotland Survey. This second Hands-Up survey revealed that numbers of children cycling on the same journey had fallen by 0.5 per cent, while the amount of children being driven to school has increased by a minimal one percent.
“Whilst the results from this survey are disappointing compared to last year, the findings highlight the need for government at local and national levels to maintain sustained and focused investment to encourage children to travel actively," commented John Lauder, national director for Sustrans Scotland.
"It is known that the benefits to health and wellbeing resulting from children travelling actively offer a great return on investment, particularly when public funding is tight. "
Despite the slight fall in pupils cycling to school, half of all journeys made to school are made on bicycle, foot or scooter.
The Sustrans Scotland boss added that this latest survey had revealed more postive points. Lauder said: "There are some rays of light in this survey – a number of areas are continuing to increase active travel levels amongst children in Scotland, although we’ve still got a long way to go.
"We welcome the recent spending increase of £10m for sustainable transport and the important role it will play in encouraging more children to cycle and walk to school.
” The results of this year’s Hands-Up Scotland Survey also support the findings of the recently published enquiry into active travel by the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee, which concluded that, “Stronger, more effective and sustained leadership is required from the Scottish Government in order to implement improvements to walking and cycling policies in Scotland.
"The forthcoming Cycling Action Plan will place the school journey as one of its aims and this must be matched with focused funding.”